Established in 2004, the Manassas Muslim Association is in search of a permanent home. MMA was one of the original Muslim organizations, which started with a musalla at Maximum Deals, in the independent city of Manassas Park. It is a growing community and several other Islamic centers have been established in the vicinity since then.
In 2007, MMA moved to a musallah at Prince Williams Automotive facility.
Muneer Baig has been involved in the association since the inception. Hopping around from musallah to musallah has had an adverse affect on membership, says Baig. The need for an address is dire. “Right now we don’t have adequate parking or space, which is inconvenient for worshippers,” he says.
MMA purchased ten acres of land for $400,000 in 2009 with an intention to build a community center and masjid on it. They paid off the property as all operational costs until 2010 were covered by locally owned Muslim businesses and all donations went towards the purchase of the property. However, the cost of leveling the land and constructing from scratch was too formidable a task for the community. Prompted by the need to find a permanent address, the shurah shifted gears and started looking for a property with a standing structure.
They believe they have found it. A $ 3.5 million parcel of land located in Manassas Park. It is ten acres of developable land, with a 8600 sqft. building and 150 parking spaces. The property has a 3500 sq ft. hall they would like to make into a main prayer hall and another 3200 sq ft. hall that could be used as a daycare and/or an elementary school. Large green fields run flat all the wy to the edge of the property.
As the property was a training center, four classrooms already exist. The bathrooms will have to be renovated, as will the tiles and carpeting. A full kitchen is also available on the premises. Baig and Mufti Asif Iqbal, imam of MMA, gave the Muslim Link a tour of the property.
The center currently offers daily 5 salah, Jummah, Taraweeh and Eid Prayers, Quran Tafseer, Sunday School, After-school Islamic Programs, Summer Camp and Community Get Togethers. In 2012, an adult alim course was started. Several other service projects are planned but are postponed due to a lack of space and address, says Baig.
Except for Baig, the members of the operations committee are all in their 30s. Involvement by the women in the community has been also been limited to offsite activities due to a lack of an address. In the last three years, a space was created for jumuah and iftar for sisters in the small temporary musalla. “Once we have this place, we have dedicated space for them and our sisters can develop the programs that they have been planning,” said Mufti Iqbal.
The owners are not Muslims but have offered a non-interest bearing loan payable in seven years to the community. “I wish Muslims did this,” jokes Baig. Located right next to the police station, currently the Arts Center is using the property as a staging and storage unit.
An additional $200,000 will be needed to revamp the building to make it usable.
The local high school, top ranking in the state of Virginia, is a hop, skip and jump away. “It would be ideal for the high school students who want to make Jumuah,” says Baig, “we are really serious about our youth, we have a young imam and a young, diverse community.” He said that the shurah would cater to their needs, including having a second jumuah around the school’s schedule. “We can build masajid,” he contended,” but if there are no musallis tomorrow, what is the use?”
Two hearings are scheduled with the city before the sale can proceed. “The objective is not to make the space for just the Muslim community, but if we can provide a safe space for the wider Manassas community, it a great dawah opportunity,” he said. Community education and services open to the general public are also on the planning roster.
The other property on Grant Ave. is in contract for sale for $750,000.
Baig says that MMA could provide the greater Manassas community a service by making soccer fields on the property to rent out to the local public. This would also bring in sustainable income to the center. Soccer is extremely popular sport in the area with many local clubs and meetups.
A fundraising dinner held on Saturday, July 27th, 2013, in a temporary location next to BBQ Tonight in Manassas Park, raised $55,000 for the association.
Find out more at www.manassasmuslims.org